Star Bombers’ Canadian running back Andrew Harris has been suspended two games for a positive drug test.
Metandienone is the banned substance found in Harris’ sample. Players who test positive face a two-game suspension for a first doping violation, which is the case with Harris.
“As someone who has coached Andrew for four seasons now, I know first hand the hard work and dedication he puts into his career as a true professional,” Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea said in a statement.
“Andrew has been tested eight times since becoming a member of the Blue Bombers, three times this season, including ten days prior to the test that came back positive. While this is an extremely unfortunate situation, I support Andrew and look forward to his return in a few weeks.”
Under the policy, a suspended player cannot participate in regular season or post-season games. It is up to the team to determine whether that player can participate in other team activities, such as training camp, practices and meetings.
All players are subjected to mandatory drug testing once testing positive, and participate in an assessment and clinical evaluation to determine if they need additional counselling. The policy mandates a total number of random tests equal to the number of the players in the CFL. Random testing is ongoing and is conducted year-round.
Harris is adamant he didn’t knowingly take the drug which caused the positive test. Full statement:
Throughout my four years playing here in Winnipeg, I have been drug tested more than any other player on our team to the point that it has become a running joke within our locker room. This year alone I’ve been tested three times: The first time on March 1, 2019 in the off-season, followed by July 2nd (blood and urine samples), and finally 10 days later on July 12 through a urine sample.
Somehow on July 12, just ten days after a test that came back completely clean, I was notified that I had tested positive for the first time in my career with very small trace of a banned substance. I’m still in shock and disbelief at the news. I immediately thought there had to be some kind of mistake.
The timeline makes it very clear — I was not using a banned substance for performance enhancing purposes, nor was I aware that I was taking any supplements with any banned substances in them. Based on the fact pattern, this is clearly a case of product contamination.
Nonetheless, I am devastated by the idea of missing two important games with my teammates. More importantly, I want football fans and young athletes around this country to know that I have not and would never cheat. People know my history and my background, and I have always taken tremendous pride in having overcome adversity through sheer force of will. I would never risk my career and the respect of my teammates, coaches and the fans in this manner.
I am told that this substance typically can stays in the body for up to four weeks, so trace amounts in my system 10 days after testing cleanly makes it clear that I did not purposefully ingest any banned substance.
I’ve spent countless hours of training, running, studying, rehabbing, succeeding and failing, and have put in blood sweat and tears to get to where I stand today. My road to becoming a starter in the CFL was extremely difficult, and I take a lot of pride in the honest blue collar work I’ve put in to reach this point in my career. This is why this announcement is very difficult for me.
I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am, and I pride myself on being not only a great role model to my daughter and youth throughout our country, but to my peers as well. As unsettling and painful as this is to me and my family, I hope this can be a helpful reminder to all athletes about being extremely cautious and aware of what they are taking and putting into their bodies.
I’m very sorry to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for this unexpected result, and I can’t wait to rejoin my teammates and the city of Winnipeg in our quest to bring a Grey Cup to this wonderful city that I am fortunate enough to call home. Thank you.
The 32-year-old leads the CFL in rushing with 908 yards on 141 carries sporting an impressive 6.4 yards-per-carry average. Winnipeg’s most dynamic offensive weapon will sit out both the Labour Day Classic and Banjo Bowl games against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.